For example, Mr. Reagan was the president who signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday into law. Reagan's efforts were strongly opposed by true conservatives; the late, great Jesse Helms being among the most vocal.
The question is: Why did Reagan ignore his party's conservatives?
Reagan made no effort to dismantle the Department of Education, he did nothing to abolish or even privatize Social Security, and fell short of heeding the recommendations of his own Grace Commission.
While Reagan deserves credit for many notable strides, such as the disintegration of the Soviet empire, he frequently ignored his conservative base.
In subsequent years, the Republicans have consistently nominated moderates to head their tickets during presidential elections. The only true conservative nominated by the GOP in my lifetime (nearly 60 years) was Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Why is it that the Republicans treat conservatives, who comprise the largest segment of the party's base, like unwanted step children?
The reason is strategy.
If the GOP were to nominate another Barry Goldwater, for example, moderate Republicans would do what they did in 1964: They would switch parties or not vote at all.
On the other hand, by nominating moderates the GOP appeases the moderates and, simultaneously, locks in the conservative vote; the conservatives having no where else to turn. Mitt Romney, for example, appeals to moderates. Conservatives, not wanting a continuation of the Obama mess, will cast their ballots for Romney as well. Had the Republicans chosen Herman Cain, or even Newt Gingrich, they would have hemorrhaged moderate votes to Obama.
(A post script, for those who care: The first vote I ever cast was for George Wallace in the 1972 Democratic primary. That was the first and only time I voted for a Democrat.)
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